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Medical Marijuana Articles 2017-2011
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source

Medical Marijuana has shown positive results for:

  • Relieving the Horrible Pain and Misery of Chemotherapy
  • Treating Glaucoma and Helps Prevent Blindness
  • Relieving the Painful Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Helping Control Epileptic Seizures and Parkinson's Disease
  • Relieving the Pain and Inflammation of Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Slowing Alzheimer's Disease and Reducing Dementia
  • And Other Less Well Known Medical Problems

But the scientific support for these benefits is not as unequivocal
as medical marijuana advocates would like. Read the articles below.

12-29-17 The cops and politicians joining Canada's cannabis business
As Canada moves towards legalising recreational cannabis, there's a surprising group of entrepreneurs jumping into the market: cops and politicians. In 2015, former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino was "completely opposed" to marijuana legalisation and supported mandatory jail time for minor cannabis offences. Mr Fantino, who was also a Cabinet minister in the former Conservative government, criticised the now governing-Liberals' plan to legalise the drug, saying it would make smoking marijuana "a normal, everyday activity for Canadians". In November, along with former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar, he opened Aleafia, a "health network" that helps patients access medical cannabis. He also had a change of heart on legalisation, telling the Toronto Star newspaper he now supports it as long as it keeps pot away from children and criminals. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he said his 2015 comments were made "in a different era". Mr Fantino said his turning point on medical marijuana came when he was minister of veterans affairs and met ex-soldiers who relied on it. Marijuana activists who have fought against prohibition for decades - and sometimes faced subsequent criminal charges for their activities - were angry over Mr Fantino's reversal on pot. Prominent cannabis advocate Dana Larsen called Mr Fantino's decision to enter the market "shameful" and "unacceptable". "I would not buy from those people," he says, adding he would tell other marijuana users to do the same.

12-23-17 Pot for pets: Could medical marijuana help your dog?
Alison Ettel, MBA, has never got high for fun, but she'd like to feed your dog cannabis. Why? Alison is the CEO of TreatWell Health, a Californian firm making medical marijuana products for people - and their canines. Her rivals include Treatibles, which sells a hemp oil "for animals of all kinds", and Pet Releaf, whose hemp dog treats look like fancy vegan snack-food. It may sound mad, but as more US states legalise recreational cannabis use, pot for pets is booming. Veterinary groups are cautious at best; but a mounting number of dog owners say the drug is easing their animals' anxiety and chronic pain. Firstly, the obvious question: No, they're not smoking it. Or eating it whole. Cannabis at human strengths can be toxic for dogs, so firms are making dog chews, oils and topical creams using cannabis extract. Some use marijuana, but more often it's hemp, which belongs to the same plant species. Both contain the compound Cannabidiol (CBD), which studies suggest can reduce inflammation, and combat seizures and anxiety. Melinda Hayes, who runs a medical cannabis delivery service in Los Angeles, gives TreatWell's cannabis tincture to Diva, her arthritic 12-year-old rescue dog. "She is in great health for a dog her age," she says, "and I attribute that to good genes, good food and the cannabis." The only side-effects she's heard of are sleepiness and increased thirst - "so you do have to make sure they have access to do their business regularly".

12-11-17 Canada, provinces reach tax deal for recreational marijuana
Canada's provinces will be getting the lion's share of the lucrative taxation revenues from legal cannabis. The provinces have agreed in principle to a two-year tax sharing agreement that gives them a 75% cut of those eventual revenues. Canada's governing Liberals are planning to legalise and regulate recreational marijuana by July 2018. Provinces had rejected an earlier proposal to share the tax revenues 50-50 with the federal government. In October, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed a 10% federal excise tax on recreational cannabis products that should not exceed $0.78 (C$1.00; £0.58) per gram, or 10% of the sale price. He also proposed that the revenues be shared equally between the two levels of government. Provinces rejected that proposal, arguing they would bear most of the costs related to setting up the distribution framework for recreational marijuana, regulating the drug, as well costs related to policing and public health. Each province is responsible for setting out the framework for the distribution of cannabis within its territory, and for regulating its distribution and retail sales. After meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts on Monday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the sweetened revenue-sharing deal. Under the agreement, the federal government will keep a 25% share to a maximum of $78m per year. Any additional revenue above will be redistributed to the 13 provinces and territories.

11-10-17 Medical cannabis vendors must stop making bogus health claims
There are enough real benefits of medical marijuana, so why are people making them up? It’s time to stop overhyping what weed can do. Cannabis can make scars disappear, reverse Alzheimer’s disease and even cure cancer – that is, if you believe some of the wilder health claims made by US firms in states where medical marijuana has been legalised. Unfortunately, such assertions aren’t based on a shred of good evidence. Not only are consumers being ripped off, but sometimes their health is being endangered. Little wonder that the US cannabis industry is sometimes dubbed a Wild-West operation. Although marijuana is best known as a recreational drug that gets you high, the plant has a long history of therapeutic use. Modern researchers have found some supporting evidence for a range of benefits that include relieving pain, muscle spasms, nausea, epilepsy and aiding sleep. It’s hard to know the exact nature and scale of the effects because there are few large-scale, good quality trials. This is partly because research has long been stymied by the plant’s classification as an illegal drug. It can take researchers years to get past the red tape and official disapproval. In the meantime, thanks to changing public attitudes, there has been a spreading decriminalisation of cannabis in various forms, including in Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and Canada. More significantly, 29 US states and Washington DC now allow medical use.

11-9-17 Why moms should put down the wine and pick up the weed
Many women say using marijuana makes them better mothers. Why are we still judging them for liking pot? "Motherhood, powered by love, fueled by coffee, sustained by wine." That's a common trope these days: Moms drink wine. Lots of wine, from the sound of it. Motherhood is hard, and nothing makes hard stuff easier than sipping a little rosé and watching Netflix. We know it, everyone knows it. Boozy moms are a thing, especially boozy millennial moms. What's less commonly known is that moms, particularly stay-at-home moms, live with depression at a higher rate than other folks. And alcohol can increase feelings of depression because of the way it interacts with certain neurotransmitters. So stay-at-home moms sometimes struggle with depression and anxiety, then drink wine to feel a little better, relieve some stress, and relax at the end of a long day. But the wine they're drinking actually has a tendency to make them feel worse, not better. For some moms, the answer lies not in the wine glass but in the bong. Today's mothers are turning to recreational marijuana to take the edge off after a long day of child-rearing, or even help treat more serious problems, like postpartum depression. "Once I became a mom I never even considered using it, but I wasn't the same after experiencing postpartum depression with both of my daughters in various forms," says Celia Behar, a life coach and cannabis advocate. A friend recommended she try pot. "I balked at first but eventually, out of desperation, I did it and it worked better than anything else I had tried." Indeed, cannabis has been shown to improve symptoms associated with clinical depression and some anxiety disorders. (Webmaster's comment: My mom should be a pothead?)

11-3-17 Marijuana Tax Windfall
California lawmakers expect a huge tax windfall when the state’s recreational marijuana market goes live Jan. 1. Buyers will have to pay state and local taxes that will total as much as 45 percent in parts of the state. A state-sponsored study estimates the legal market could be worth $5 billion.

10-27-17 Danish companies queue to grow cannabis
Companies have begun applying to Denmark's medicines regulator to grow cannabis plants ahead of the drug becoming legalised for medicinal purposes next year, it's reported. Some 13 companies have already submitted applications for growing cannabis plants to the Laegemiddelstyrelsen, so that they can help treat Danes suffering from painful illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. From January 2018, the drug becomes legalised as part of a four-year trial and patients in the country can obtain cannabis on prescription, the Copenhagen Post reports. But parliament is still working on the specific details of how the scheme will work, meaning that some horticulturalists, including Jorgen K. Andersen of the Dansk Gartneri firm, have chosen not to apply. Mr Andersen tells the website that his company is put off by what he foresees "will be a very complicated set of rules" to grow the plant. Some companies, however, are hoping to cultivate a Danish cannabis industry and export the drug to other regions where it is legal, to help drive down costs for domestic patients, Danmarks Radio says. Currently, it would cost some 6,000 krone ($935; £715) a month to adequately treat an average patient, Lars Tomassen, director of Danish Cannabis tells the radio. With permission to export, "we are aiming to at least half the cost," he says.

10-27-17 Legal pot is the new gay marriage
Legal pot is the new gay marriage
American public opinion has been gradually shifting on the question of legalizing marijuana. In the last couple of years, the proportion of the country in support has reached critical mass: In a Gallup poll released Wednesday, fully 64 percent of Americans support legalization — including a majority of Republicans. It's in many ways quite similar to what happened with gay marriage. However, unlike when the gay marriage public opinion wave started to crest in 2012 and 2013, as of yet few high-profile Democrats have come out for legalization. It's long since time the party came around on this issue — not just on policy or political grounds, but to get out ahead of a more corporate legalization approach. Now, there are some exceptions, most prominently Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who to his credit introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level in August. In fact, Booker's bill is considerably more aggressive than even Bernie Sanders' bill from 2015, which would have merely allowed states to legalize marijuana — thus formalizing the quasi-legal status of the eight states and D.C. that have legalized marijuana to varying extents. In comparison, Booker's bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, pressure states into legalizing it, expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes, allow marijuana convicts in federal prison to petition for resentencing, and create a community reinvestment fund to rebuild places hit hardest by the war on drugs. It's a great start. The war on drugs is an abject failure, and it's long since time we treated marijuana more sensibly.

10-25-17 Record-High Support for Legalizing Marijuana Use in U.S.
Record-High Support for Legalizing Marijuana Use in U.S.
Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana use: 64%. Americans continue to warm to legalizing marijuana, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support Gallup has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.

  • Support for legalization at highest point in nearly five decades
  • Majority of Republicans now support legalizing marijuana

American's Support for Legalizing Marijuana Continues to Rise!

10-25-17 Marijuana compounds made in GM yeast could help epilepsy
Marijuana compounds made in GM yeast could help epilepsy
Sneaking cannabis DNA into yeast can create enormous quantities of any marijuana component, from those with medical applications to the ones that get you high. Cell-sized cannabis factories could soon be producing medical treatments for epilepsy. A non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana plants called cannabidivarin (CBDV) has shown promise in the treatment of severe cases of epilepsy. However, to treat just 10 per cent of people with epilepsy would require around 1500 tonnes of pure CBDV. To obtain this amount using current methods, you would need to plant large quantities of marijuana and extract their small supply of CBDV. “There’s so little of this chemical in plants it would actually be impossible to harvest it by traditional means,” says Kevin Chen, who runs Hyasynth Bio, a start-up in Montreal, Canada. That’s why the firm has turned to cellular agriculture, in which crops are made from cell cultures. It has added the chunk of cannabis DNA that codes for CBDV into yeast DNA, which turns the yeast into CBDV production plants. This allows for rapid, large-scale CBDV creation with none of the concerns around growing marijuana. “It can be very inefficient to extract these compounds from plants,” says Tom Williams at Macquarie University in Australia, “and that can consume a lot of valuable resources like land and fertiliser.” The work was presented at the New Harvest conference in New York this month. Once optimised, using microbes like yeast will make harvesting compounds such as CBDV efficient and cost-effective, says Williams. The medical applications could be far-reaching. Epilepsy affects around 50 million people worldwide and those diagnosed with it are three times more likely to die prematurely. Around 30 per cent of those with epilepsy don’t respond to available treatments.

10-23-17 California fires: Cannabis farm fundraisers shut down
California fires: Cannabis farm fundraisers shut down
Crowdfunding efforts to help legal cannabis farms damaged in California's wildfires have been closed down because of fear of contradictory national laws. More than $13,000 (£10,000) was raised for the dozens of businesses. Medical cannabis is already legal in California and it is set to be sold recreationally from January next year. However under US federal law it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell the drug - making it difficult for legal growers to get help. As it stands 29 US states allow medical cannabis and eight have approved recreational use - but it is still classed as a schedule one drug nationally, alongside other drugs such as heroin and ecstasy. The crowdfunding website, Youcaring, said they had no choice but to cancel the fundraisers because fundraising for cannabis-related purposes is banned by its payment providers, WePay and PayPal. The fundraising could technically be classified as money-laundering under the federal laws, despite the businesses being legal within the state of California. It had been set up by Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, aiming to raise $25,000 for at least 34 businesses affected, according to CNN. The US justice department released guidance in 2013 instructing federal prosecutors to not pursue cases where the state allowed the action, and other federal agencies have had to issue similar guidance on how to operate legally within the contradicting laws.

10-20-17 New Zealand to hold cannabis referendum within three years
New Zealand to hold cannabis referendum within three years
New Zealand will hold a referendum on legalising the recreational use of cannabis in the next three years, its prime minister-elect has pledged. Jacinda Ardern said she did not personally support imprisoning people for using cannabis but wanted to hear New Zealanders' views. Ms Ardern received a standing ovation at a meeting of her Labour Party. She will head a three-way coalition with the Greens and nationalist party New Zealand First (NZF). Ms Ardern, 37, emerged as the surprise new leader after weeks of negotiation following September's inconclusive election, which resulted in a hung parliament. The incumbent National Party won 56 seats - two more than the Labour-Green bloc - but was unable to agree a governing coalition.

9-22-17 Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana
Confusion lingers over health-related pros and cons of marijuana
No one knows whether chronic marijuana smoking causes emotional troubles or is a symptom of them.... This dearth of evidence has a number of explanations: serious lingering reactions, if they exist, occur after prolonged use, rarely after a single dose; marijuana has no known medical use, unlike LSD, so scientists have had little reason to study the drug…. Also, marijuana has been under strict legal sanctions … for more than 30 years. – Science News, October 7, 1967.
In 29 states and in Washington, D.C., marijuana is now commonly prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. But the drug’s pros and cons remain hazy. Regular pot use has been linked to psychotic disorders and to alcohol and drug addiction (SN Online: 1/12/17). And two recent research reviews conclude that very little high-quality data exist on whether marijuana effectively treats PTSD or pain. Several large-scale trials are under way to assess how well cannabis treats these conditions.

9-14-17 New Zealand police enlist school in cannabis crackdown
New Zealand police enlist school in cannabis crackdown
Local police on New Zealand's South Island are calling on a primary school to be on the lookout for illegal cannabis plantations. Havelock School in the picturesque Marlborough Sounds has run a police appeal in its latest newsletter - just below the cross-country race results - urging teachers, parents and pupils to be "extra-vigilant as the cannabis-growing season approaches," reports the Marlborough Express newspaper, which prints a photo of the item. The newsletter also urges readers to look out for "people in the bush who do not look like they are hunting or tramping" - a New Zealand term for hill-walking. One of the two local police officers is Spencer Kingi, who is also a parent representative at the school. He told the paper that the public play an important role as the "eyes and ears of the police" in Marlborough's remote rural locations and islands. These are ideal for hiding cannabis plantations, so the public should report any suspicious vehicles or yachts, and any cannabis-growing kit like hydroponic equipment, he says. Constable Kingi told the paper that the police are using every means, including the school newsletter, to get people involved in "reducing harm in our communities, where the supply of illicit drugs has a big impact".

8-4-17 Marijuana company buys entire US town to create 'cannabis-friendly municipality'
Marijuana company buys entire US town to create 'cannabis-friendly municipality'
A company which makes cannabis products has bought an entire town in California and plans to turn it into a "destination" for marijuana. American Green has agreed a deal to buy the town of Nipton for $5m (£3.8m). The company will own 120 acres of land, which includes a school building, a hotel, mineral baths and a general store. They also want to power the town with renewable energy. "We are excited to lead the charge for a true green rush," American Green's president David Gwyther said in a statement to Time. "The cannabis revolution that's going on here in the US has the power to completely revitalise communities in the same way gold did during the 19th Century." Nipton was originally founded during the gold rush in the early 20th Century when the precious metal was found nearby. California is one of eight US states where recreational marijuana is legal.

7-28-17 Wanted: Drug-free factory workers
Wanted: Drug-free factory workers
High-paying manufacturing jobs are going unfilled because factories are struggling to find workers who can pass a drug test, said Nelson Schwartz in The New York Times. At Warren Fabricating & Machining in Hubbard, Ohio, co-owner Regina Mitchell says nearly half of the company’s job applicants test positive for drugs. Among those, Mitchell says, it’s split about evenly between marijuana use and harder drugs like opioids. Mitchell’s company isn’t unique. Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen recently “linked increased opioid abuse to declining participation in the labor force among prime-age workers.” A 2013 study estimated that opioid abuse cost the economy $78.5 billion in that year, not counting the impact of factors like lost productivity. “Imagine the money we could save or invest as a company if I were able to hire drug-free workers on the spot,” Mitchell says. “But that’s just not the environment we are in.”

7-28-17 Weed at the pharmacy
Weed at the pharmacy
Recreational marijuana is now fully available in Uruguay—the first country in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution, and sale of weed. Adults can buy marijuana at their local pharmacy, as long as they have registered with the government and get a fingerprint scan each time they purchase the drug, to ensure they don’t go over the approved personal limit. The price, about $13 for some 15 joints’ worth, is below the black-market rate, so users have an incentive to choose the legal system over street dealers. “The great responsibility we have in Uruguay is to show the world that this system of freedom with regulation works better than prohibition,” said Eduardo Blasina, founder of the Montevideo Cannabis Museum.

7-21-17 Marijuana emergency
Marijuana emergency
Nevada state officials approved emergency regulations last week to help solve the acute marijuana shortage that developed just days after the state legalized recreational weed. Lines of customers have snaked outside the doors of the state’s 47 licensed dispensaries since legal marijuana was made available for sale on July 1, with a reported 40,000 transactions in the first weekend. The surge in demand caught sellers off guard, and with display cases emptying, they lobbied for a change to strict weed-distribution rules. Under the referendum approved by voters in November, only liquor wholesalers can move weed from growers to the dispensaries, and none were licensed when the law took effect. After the Nevada Tax Commission unanimously voted last week to expand the distribution licenses, dispensaries were able to restock. Nevada officials expect marijuana sales to generate $100 million in tax revenue over the next two years.

7-19-17 In U.S., 45% Say They Have Tried Marijuana
In U.S., 45% Say They Have Tried Marijuana
As more U.S. states legalize marijuana use, 45% of Americans say they have tried marijuana at least once, a new high in Gallup's trend since 1969. When Gallup first asked this question in 1969, only 4% said they had tried marijuana. The rise in use over the past five decades has paralleled the increasing support for legalization -- last year, 60% said pot should be legal, a record high. Eight states allow recreational marijuana use, and these states comprise one-fifth of the U.S. population.

7-20-17 Is marijuana a secret weapon against the opioid epidemic?
Is marijuana a secret weapon against the opioid epidemic?
Research suggests pot could help save lives. As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a crowd of federal, state and local law enforcement in March, the country "is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic." According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid and heroin overdoses kill 91 Americans each day. But in the same speech, Sessions made clear that he thinks the drug crisis isn't limited to opiate abuse. "I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so, people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful," he said. Studies have shown a different link between marijuana and opioids, however. "Really, if we stopped medical marijuana programs that are now in place in 29 states and Washington, D.C. … the science suggests we would worsen the opioid epidemic," says Dina Fine Maron, a medicine and health editor at Scientific American, who wrote a recent story on the subject. She explains that states with medical marijuana programs have fewer opioid overdose-related deaths than states without medical marijuana — 25 percent fewer, according to a 2014 study cited in her article. "The reality is that the literature right now suggests that if anyone is using an opioid — whether it be a prescription painkiller or something like heroin — a prescription painkiller is more likely [than marijuana] to lead to drug abuse," she says, "because it's more addictive and obviously can be more lethal."

7-19-17 Uruguay pharmacies start selling recreational marijuana
Uruguay pharmacies start selling recreational marijuana
Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legally sell marijuana for recreational use. Sixteen pharmacies started dispensing marijuana on Wednesday. Almost 5,000 people have signed up to a national registry to be able to buy marijuana legally. They will be able to buy up to 10g (0.35oz) a week and no more than 40g a month. The move comes four years after a law was passed which fully legalised the cannabis trade. Supporters of the law argue that it will help stop the illegal trade in marijuana and put drug dealers out of business.

7-12-17 Marijuana shortage: Nevada considers emergency measures
Marijuana shortage: Nevada considers emergency measures
State officials in Nevada are considering emergency measures to deal with a lack of marijuana. Demand has been strong since recreational use was legalised on 1 July. There are plenty of outlets but not enough distributors, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports. Legislation gave liquor wholesalers the right to distribute, but most do not meet the licence requirements, Nevada's tax department is quoted as saying. The department issued a "statement of emergency", which means state officials could adopt emergency measures to combat the shortage. The journal quotes tax department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein as saying that many of Nevada's 47 marijuana stores are running out amid "reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry's expectations".

7-1-17 You can now legally buy recreational marijuana in Nevada
You can now legally buy recreational marijuana in Nevada
Recreational marijuana sales began Saturday in Nevada, the fifth state to legalize recreational pot use despite continuing federal prohibition, with some dispensaries opening at midnight Saturday morning. The legalization was approved by ballot initiative in November with 55 percent public support. Pot purchases are regulated much like alcohol, allowing buyers over 21 to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. However, it is still illegal to use recreational marijuana anywhere outside private residences, and it is also illegal to bring marijuana purchased in another state where it is legal, like Washington or Colorado, into Nevada. Legalization is expected to be a major tourist draw for Las Vegas as well as a significant new source of state revenue.

6-16-17 Sessions targets medical marijuana
Sessions targets medical marijuana
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked congressional leaders to allow the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana providers. In a May letter made public this week, Sessions asked lawmakers to undo federal medical-marijuana protections, arguing that the bipartisan 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from interfering with laws in the 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana, was unwise “in the midst of a historic drug epidemic.” The drug epidemic Sessions refers to is an opioid, not marijuana, crisis, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who sponsored the amendment, said the move would harm “veterans and other suffering Americans who...are helped dramatically by medical marijuana.”

6-13-17 Jeff Sessions really wants to prosecute medical marijuana providers
Jeff Sessions really wants to prosecute medical marijuana providers
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, but he's recently been in touch with Congress about another matter: prosecuting medical marijuana providers. Some context: Since 2014, Congress has prohibited the Justice Department from spending any money to interfere with states "implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." The law functions as a de facto federal legalization of medical marijuana wherever it is legalized at the state level, and it was upheld in appeals court in 2016. That's the rule Sessions wants to nix. He wrote a letter to Congress in May arguing it is "unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the [Justice] Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime." Sessions' argument here is disingenuous; as The Washington Post notes, the "historic drug epidemic" in question involves opioids, not marijuana, and states in which medical marijuana is legal see a substantially lower rate of opioid overdose and abuse.

5-31-17 Could cannabis help crack cocaine addicts kick the habit?
Could cannabis help crack cocaine addicts kick the habit?
Crack users find it easier to give up when they take cannabis, and animals given components of cannabis are more likely to overcome a crack addiction. COMPONENTS of cannabis might help those addicted to crack cocaine to quit. Such people may find it easier to curb their usage or give up entirely when they take some form of cannabis, suggests a small study that builds on similar results from research in rodents. “This is a promising development that will provide more alternatives to those in need,” says Ric Curtis at the City University of New York, who wasn’t involved in the work. Some of the first hints that cannabis might help curb crack cravings were anecdotal, says Curtis, who studied crack dealers in the 1980s. “They would wean themselves off crack by smoking it with marijuana.” To find out if this approach might work, Michael-John Milloy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver assessed the findings from three long-term studies of drug users in the city. Across the studies, 3000 people with a history of drug use completed questionnaires detailing their habits, including whether they had started taking cannabis with the intention of reducing their crack cravings. Milloy and his colleagues identified 122 crack users who started taking cannabis for this purpose. Over an average of 30 months, these individuals were 89 per cent more likely to have reduced their crack use when they were using cannabis, compared with when they were not using it.

5-8-17 A little cannabis every day might keep brain ageing at bay
A little cannabis every day might keep brain ageing at bay
A mouse study suggests marijuana may have the opposite effect on older people than it has on the young, boosting learning and memory instead of impairing it. In some cultures, it’s traditional for elders to smoke grass, a practice said to help them pass on tribal knowledge. It turns out that they might just be onto something. Teenagers who toke perform less well on memory and attention tasks while under the influence. But low doses of the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, might have the opposite effect on the elderly, reversing brain ageing and restoring learning and memory – at least according to studies of mice. “We repeated these experiments many times,” says team leader Andreas Zimmer at the University of Bonn, Germany. “It’s a very robust and profound effect.” Zimmer’s team has been studying the mammalian endocannabinoid system, which is involved in balancing out our bodies’ response to stress. THC affects us by mimicking similar molecules in this system, calming us down. The researchers discovered that mice with genetic mutations that stop this endocannabinoid system from working properly age faster than normal mice, and show more cognitive decline. This made Zimmer wonder if stimulating the endocannabinoid system in elderly mice might have the opposite effect.

5-7-17 New Canada Law Gives Legal Immunity To People Who Report Drug Overdoses
New Canada Law Gives Legal Immunity To People Who Report Drug Overdoses
“During an overdose, a call to 911 can often be the difference between life and death,” the Canadian minister of health said. The Canadian government enacted a new law on Thursday that seeks to stem the rising death toll from opioids by allowing bystanders to report overdoses without fear of legal repercussion. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act ensures that anyone who calls 911 in case of an overdose, as well as those who are at the scene of the emergency, will be granted immunity from simple drug possession charges, or violations of parole, probation or pre-trial release orders. Other offenses like trafficking or driving while impaired are not exempted. Liberal Member of Parliament Ron McKinnon introduced the law last year. Lawmakers gave it final approval earlier this week, clearing the way for it to receive royal assent on Thursday. Canada, like the U.S., has been hit hard by opioids in recent years. The influx of increasingly potent heroin, often cut with synthetics such as fentanyl, led to thousands of deaths in 2016. Although nationwide data is hard to come by due to inconsistent reporting, 931 people fatally overdosed on illicit drugs last year in British Columbia alone, with the vast majority likely related to opioids. British Columbia is often referred to as the heart of the Canadian opioid epidemic. Drug policy experts note that opioid overdose victims are often with others when they use drugs, and that these bystanders can play a crucial role in preventing fatalities. (Message I Received From A Member: I was just reading about Canada's new law called the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act and thought it is something that this country or at the very least, this state should have. Basically from what I understand it makes anyone immune from legal prosecution in the event they or anyone around them has to go to the hospital in the event of a drug overdose. I know in my younger years the idea of someone overdosing or even a minor getting alcohol poisoning would have been a big issue because everyone would be scared of legal repercussions if they went to the hospital or took someone to the hospital and in a situation like that, where every second means a persons life I don't think that people should have to delay for one moment just out of fear of prosecution. I don't care if it's a drug dealer or a group of adults who bought alcohol for minors, I just believe that as a society we should be more concerned with a human life than prosecuting someone for a mistake and a personal choice. I feel so strongly about this but don't know who to contact about it or who could just take the idea and know where to go with it to at least get it into people's minds. I figured your group would at least know how to move it up the chain I guess, and also figured that members of your group would probably agree with the idea. Feel free to email me back. Even if you disagree with my idea I would like to know that it was received and thought about I guess. I don't want any credit for it, the credit goes to Canada and their people, and I just happened to read the article and thought we need this, so no need to include my name or anything. Just hoping that you all can maybe go somewhere with it. You can put me on email lists. I would like to hear what's current in your group and emails are always a good way of getting updated. I think posting this issue would be a good idea; I fully support whatever you think it would take to get this concept out in the open. I'm hoping even some of the biggest anti-drug groups would even realize that this isn't about medical or recreational drug use it's about saving life.
We should support such legislation in the United States. Anyone who wants to run with this will get Sioux Falls Free Thinkers support. - Webmaster)

5-5-17 Forget about legalizing all drugs
Forget about legalizing all drugs
“As the opioid crisis takes lives on a historic scale, it’s time to kill a bad idea,” said David French. “Just say no to legalizing hard drugs.” Since the war on drugs took off in the 1980s, many thoughtful conservatives, libertarians, and liberals have argued for legalization. Their rationale is that the drug war’s costs—“in lives lost, lives squandered in prison, and civil liberties curtailed”—outweigh any potential harm from the drugs themselves. The opioid epidemic proves them wrong: The consequences of hard-drug use are indeed “more horrific than prohibition.” The scourge began when the federal government approved and pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketed addictive prescription opioid painkillers such as Percocet and OxyContin. It was, in essence, the legalization of heroin in pill form. “Communities were suddenly awash in narcotics,” and when prescriptions became more tightly restricted, already-addicted people simply turned to cheaper street heroin. In 2015, 52,404 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, more than the number who died from car crashes or guns. People don’t choose to use opioids—they become slaves to them. While we may never win the war on drugs, “there is no choice but to continue the fight.”

4-25-17 Medical marijuana may be a salve for the US opioid epidemic
Medical marijuana may be a salve for the US opioid epidemic
In US states where medical marijuana has been legalised, people seem to be switching from other prescribed drugs to cannabis as a treatment for pain. Does cannabis really have medicinal properties? As the trend to legalise medical marijuana continues, there is growing evidence that it does help relieve some conditions, leading to hopes that it may help curb the US opioid addiction epidemic. In the US, 28 states plus Washington DC have legalised medical marijuana in some form. An analysis has shown that compared with other states, those regions spent less money on prescriptions through Medicaid – the healthcare programme for people on low incomes – for five conditions sometimes treated with cannabis between 2007 and 2014. These conditions were pain, depression, nausea, psychosis and seizures. The study could not prove that medical marijuana was causing the difference in prescription medication use. But there was no difference found in prescriptions for conditions unlikely to be treated with cannabis, such as antibiotics for infections. “It’s consistent with patients switching to marijuana for the five conditions,” says author David Bradford of the University of Georgia, US. At the federal level, cannabis in plant form is still classed as an illegal drug that has no medicinal properties. “I hope that this will help encourage the Attorney General to change its status,” says Bradford.

3-27-17 Canada to legalise marijuana 'by 2018'
Canada to legalise marijuana 'by 2018'
Recreational marijuana use could be legal in Canada by 1 July 2018 under coming legislation, according to reports. The federal government will table legislation to legalise marijuana by April, public broadcaster CBC is reporting. Sources told the CBC that members of the governing Liberal party were recently briefed on the timeline. The party has long promised they would have legislation ready by spring. The CBC said the new regulations would broadly follow recommendations released in December by a federally-appointed pot task force. Those recommendations included proposals that Canada should permit the sale of recreational marijuana to people over age 18 and tax pot products based on potency.

3-3-17 Marijuana crackdown looms
Marijuana crackdown looms
The Trump administration said last week that it expects to begin enforcing federal law banning marijuana sales in states that have legalized recreational use of the drug. The Obama administration had announced that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states that had legalized weed, saying it had “bigger fish to fry.” Eight states have legalized recreational use of marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon. While House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump sees “a big difference” between medical and recreational use, and that there would probably be “greater enforcement” against the latter. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of weed legalization, reinforced Spicer’s comments, saying he opposed “marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” U.S. cannabis stocks immediately slumped.

1-12-17 Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny
Promise and perils of marijuana deserve more scientific scrutiny
Limits on ability to study drug hamper efforts to weigh public health benefits, concerns. Cannabis plants such as this one yield marijuana and other substances that deserve expanded study for possible medical benefits, a large research review recommends. But negative physical and psychological effects of cannabis products can’t be ignored, the report says. Marijuana’s medical promise deserves closer, better-funded scientific scrutiny, a new state-of-the-science report concludes. The report, released January 12 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, D.C., calls for expanding research on potential medical applications of cannabis and its products, including marijuana and chemical components called cannabinoids. Big gaps in knowledge remain about health effects of cannabis use, for good or ill. Efforts to study these effects are hampered by federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule 1 status makes it difficult for researchers to access cannabis. The new report recommends reclassifying the substance to make it easier to study.

1-11-17 Preventing Big Cannabis: How to nip marijuana lobby in the bud
Preventing Big Cannabis: How to nip marijuana lobby in the bud
A powerful lobby could be an unintended consequence of legalising the drug. Could Canada's regulatory approach ensure public health comes before profit? CANNABIS is going legit. This year, Canada will become the latest country to join a small but growing number of regions where it is legal to smoke marijuana. But some fear that this global trend could lead to the plant’s growers and sellers taking control of the market to maximise profits and recruit new users, and fighting any controls on its sales and marketing techniques. One worry is that, left unchecked, the cannabis industry might become as rich and powerful as the tobacco and alcohol industries did in the last century. “The marijuana industry is where tobacco was in about 1890,” says Stanton Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco. “Tobacco went on to develop immense political power, hire lawyers and lobbyists and dominate regulators.” Canada offers an alternative approach, one in which public health is at the forefront. Under plans published last month, cannabis would be as tightly regulated as tobacco or alcohol. Is this enough to halt the rise of Big Cannabis? In the West, the case for legalising cannabis has been gaining ground for some time. It has long been the most widely used recreational drug, yet in most parts of the world it is criminalised. This ruins lives, wastes police time and fills jails.

1-4-17 Marijuana brands aim for high-end retail in Canada
Marijuana brands aim for high-end retail in Canada
With retailers jockeying for position before cannabis is fully legalised in Canada, "seedy" so-called head shops could soon be a thing of the past.

12-21-16 ‘Psychedelic sanctuary’ will help drug users get over bad trips
‘Psychedelic sanctuary’ will help drug users get over bad trips
The first psychedelic drug treatment centre in the US plans to help users of LSD, magic mushrooms and other hallucinogens come to terms with their experiences. How do you recover from a bad trip? A “psychedelics sanctuary” is set to open in New York this month, the first US therapeutic facility for users of psychedelic drugs. Instead of focusing on going cold turkey, the centre will use psychotherapy and group support to help users come to terms with any intense and difficult experiences they might have had while taking hallucinogenic drugs. “The prescriptive mode that prevails in drug treatment today says that drug use is a chronic, progressive disease that is only arrested by total abstinence,” says Andrew Tatarsky, founder of the Center for Optimal Living, a New York substance abuse clinic that will host the sanctuary. Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, are usually regarded as drugs of abuse. Conventionally, treatment has attempted to rid people of their addictions, encouraging complete abstinence. However, LSD, psilocybin and other psychedelics are not physiologically addictive. Many people who use psychedelics are not looking to be cured, but instead seek help making sense of their trips, which can sometimes fundamentally challenge how they see the world. (Webmaster's comment: We also need the same thing for all the new brain fried pot heads as a result of the new recreational marijuana laws.)

12-17-16 We need to talk about medical marijuana
We need to talk about medical marijuana
As the smoke cleared after Election Day 2016, we found ourselves at the dawn of a new era for cannabis in the United States. In Massachusetts, and elsewhere, new marijuana laws will go into effect. On Election Day, four states, including California (the most populous state in the union), voted to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing the national total to eight states plus the District of Columbia. Four other states voted to allow the use of cannabis in a medical capacity, which means that medical marijuana is now legal in more than half of all states. To put the election results into perspective, the percentage of Americans now living in an area where recreational marijuana is legal, or will soon be, rose from 5 percent to 20 percent. Given the accelerated acceptance for the use of cannabis, it's worth considering the consequences of these new laws. There has been plenty of hand-wringing about how these new laws might harm society, but I believe they have the potential to help in a range of societal issues.

12-16-16 Plan for pot
Plan for pot
Marijuana products should be sold in plain packaging, and only to buyers ages 18 and over, according to a Canadian task force charged with drawing up guidelines for national pot legalization. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to legalize recreational marijuana in his 2015 election campaign, and now his panel has put out a 106-page report that will shape the legislation. The report envisions stores and dispensaries that sell only marijuana, not alcohol or cigarettes, as well as cafés where pot can be smoked on site. There would be penalties for driving while stoned, and the government would regulate the level of THC, the chemical that causes the high, per dose. “Now is the time to move away from a system that for decades has been based on prohibition of cannabis into a regulated market,” said task force chair Anne McLellan.

12-16-16 Some of the things we were told to avoid
Some of the things we were told to avoid
Marijuana may take a long-term toll on the mind. Researchers found that weed reduces blood flow to virtually every part of the brain. The effect is most notable in the hippocampus, the neural region responsible for learning and memory, which is particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease. “The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug,” says co-author Daniel Amen. “This research directly challenges that notion.” Separate studies this year found that longtime marijuana users are also more likely to have memory problems, and are at a greater risk for gum disease.

12-9-16 Weed linked to Alzheimer’s
Weed linked to Alzheimer’s
Proponents of legalizing marijuana have long argued the drug is safe for recreational use, but new research suggests long-term indulgence may reduce blood flow to the brain and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Using imaging technology that evaluates blood flow and cerebral activity—single photon emission computed tomography—researchers studied the brains of about 1,000 current or former marijuana smokers and those of 100 people who never touched the drug. They discovered that weed users had less blood flow to nearly every part of their brains. The effect was most pronounced in the hippocampus—the area responsible for learning and memory and the first affected by Alzheimer’s. “Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function,” study author Daniel Amen tells “The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug. This research directly challenges that notion.”

11-27-16 Marijuana advocates sceptical about Canada path to legal pot
Marijuana advocates sceptical about Canada path to legal pot
Canada will soon introduce legislation to legalise recreational marijuana. Pot advocates are not as happy as you might think. The Cannabis Culture dispensary in downtown Toronto gets a steady stream of foot traffic around noon on a weekday. But Marc Emery, who helped set up the franchise that flouts Canadian drug laws by selling pot to anyone over 19, is annoyed. The dispensary had been raided the day before by Toronto police. "It's the government's intention to legalise it. So why is the government still arresting people?" he asks. r Emery is just one of many owners of illegal marijuana storefronts that have mushroomed in cities across Canada after the federal Liberals were elected in 2015. The Liberals have committed to legalising recreational marijuana in Canada and plan to introduce marijuana law reforms on the sale, cultivation and distribution in parliament next spring.

11-26-16 The rise of legal weed in America
The rise of legal weed in America
A majority of the U.S. population now has access to legalized cannabis in some form. What's the track record so far? Here's everything you need to know: There have been some huge upsides, as well as serious downsides. In Colorado, the booming new cannabis industry has created more than 18,000 full-time jobs and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity. The state tightly regulates weed sales: Adults over 21 can possess only 28 grams, and marijuana plants are tagged with a radio-frequency ID chip so that they can be tracked. Products are tested for potency and contaminants, and are sold in child-resistant containers. "There are a certain number of folks, like myself, who were pretty reticent about [legalization] to begin with," says House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Democrat. "[But] the sky didn't fall." Legal-weed states have experienced a significant jump in marijuana-related DUIs. In Washington state, a record 745 drivers who were pulled over on suspicion of DUI in the first six months after legalization tested positive for THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, compared with 1,000 over the entire previous year. At the same time, the number of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for THC rose by 48 percent between 2013 and 2014, when legalized marijuana hit the market. Hospitalizations for overdoses are also up. "Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug," says Peter Kissinger, CEO of the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety.

  • Where is weed legal?
  • What's happened in states that legalized weed?
  • What are the downsides?
  • Why are hospitalizations up?
  • Is overall weed use up?
  • Will it be legalized nationally?
  • Weed baths and bacon brittle

11-25-16 Ex-big pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana
Ex-big pharma executive behind OxyContin sells medical marijuana
John Stewart used to run the pharmaceutical company behind the narcotic painkiller OxyContin. Now he is banking on medical marijuana. Mr Stewart does not know which is more controversial these days, OxyContin or pot. He guesses the average person would give "a bigger negative" to the powerful and controversial painkiller that has been linked to the opioid overdose and addiction epidemic in the US and Canada. "There is a lot of anti-opioid sentiment," he says, delicately. "And certainly based on the social disruption that we've seen it's understandable." In the US, an estimated 1.9 million Americans were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers in 2014. Accidental overdoses from prescription painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2012. In 2014, drug overdoses were the leading accidental cause of death south of the border, driven by prescription opioids.

11-18-16 Legalizing marijuana
Legalizing marijuana
Recreational use is now fully legal in eight states plus Washington, D.C., after voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine approved marijuana ballot initiatives last week. On Election Day, voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota brought the tally of states with legal medical marijuana to 28. Though cannabis is still illegal under federal law, Election Day was widely considered a tipping point for the legalization movement. A recent Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans now approve of legalizing marijuana, and there is a growing bipartisan consensus that the $1 trillion war on drugs has failed. Criminalizing the use and sale of drugs has sent millions of nonviolent criminals to prison—a disproportionate number of them black—and empowered violent drug cartels. At the same time, there is growing scientific research showing that casual cannabis use by adults is fairly safe—less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Another major factor propelling legalization is that states can tax it and get a big boost in revenues. As one pro-legalization ad in Colorado put it: “Jobs for our people. Money for our schools. Who could ask for more?”

  • Where is weed legal?
  • What’s happened in states that legalized weed?
  • What are the downsides?
  • Why are hospitalizations up?
  • Is overall weed use up?
  • Will it be legalized nationally?
  • Weed baths and bacon brittle

11-15-16 Marijuana use weakens heart muscle
Marijuana use weakens heart muscle
.Young, male, healthy pot smokers at high risk of stress cardiomyopathy. Marijuana use may double the risk of developing stress cardiomyopathy, a temporary weakening of the tip of the heart. Marijuana use is associated with an almost doubled risk of developing stress cardiomyopathy, a sudden life-threatening weakening of the heart muscle, according to a new study. Cannabis fans may find the results surprising, since two-thirds believe the drug has no lasting health effects. But as more states approve recreational use, scientists say there’s a renewed urgency to learn about the drug’s effects. An estimated 22 million Americans — including 38 percent of college students — say they regularly use marijuana. Previous research has raised cardiovascular concerns: The drug has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack immediately after use, and a 2016 study in rodents found that one minute of exposure to marijuana smoke impairs the heart’s inner lining for 90 minutes, longer than tobacco’s effect.

11-11-16 Marijuana reform wins big in ballot initiatives
Marijuana reform wins big in ballot initiatives
Marijuana advocates won major victories in ballot initiatives across the country, as voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada this week voted to legalize the recreational use of the drug, while Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved medical marijuana. Arizona rejected a proposal on recreational weed, and a vote in Maine was too close to call. Together, the results were the nearest the U.S. has come to a national referendum on marijuana, which remains illegal for all uses under federal law. “These votes send a clear message to federal officials that it’s time to stop arresting and incarcerating marijuana users,” said Rob Kampia, head of the Marijuana Policy Project advocacy group. Tougher gun control was on the ballot in four states. Voters in California approved a proposition that will outlaw high-capacity magazines and require background checks to buy bullets. Washington State voted to give authorities the power to temporarily seize firearms, with a court order, from people deemed a threat. A proposal requiring universal background checks for private firearms sales was approved in Nevada and narrowly voted down in Maine.

10-6-16 The economics driving America's devastating drug scourge
The economics driving America's devastating drug scourge
America is coming to the belated realization that it has a heroin epidemic on its hands. And this problem is intertwined with a larger epidemic of legal painkillers, which killed more people than car crashes or guns in 2014. Like all big social changes, part of this story is economic. How much money people make, where, how, and whether they can work, what they can buy — all of this forms the superstructure in which human lives and communities grow and thrive or whither and die. That applies to the heroin epidemic as much as anything else. And like all economic stories, this one comes in two parts: The demand side and the supply side. The demand side — why so many more Americans are using — has gotten most of the attention so far. But the supply side is equally fascinating in its own grim way.

9-20-16 Teenage cannabis use rises in Europe - EU Espad survey
Teenage cannabis use rises in Europe - EU Espad survey
Cigarette and alcohol use among 15- and 16-year-olds is declining across Europe but the numbers using cannabis are growing, an EU survey shows. The Espad report for 2015 includes most EU countries, but not Germany or the UK, and data for Spain is incomplete. In 2015 "current smokers" accounted for 21% of those surveyed, and the highest total was in Italy (37%). In 1995-2015 those using alcohol in the past 30 days fell from 56% to 47%. Top in cannabis use were the Czechs (37%). That figure for Czech teenagers reporting a lifetime experience of cannabis was higher than the level in the US - 31% in comparable surveys. The average for cannabis use in the European countries surveyed was 16%. That was lower than the comparable figure for Spain - 27%.

Cannabis use in the last 30 days by gender. 25-country trend 1995-2015.

9-16-16 Marijuana Growth
Marijuana Growth
The legal marijuana industry in the U.S. could grow to be worth $50 billion over the next decade, eight times its current size, according to a recent market analysis. Nine states have pot-related initiatives on the ballot this November, five to legalize the drug for all adults and four to allow it for medical use.

9-9-16 They use more marijuana
They use more marijuana
Over the past 12 years, the number of Americans who say they use marijuana on a daily or near-daily basis has jumped from 3.9 million to 8.4 million, or from 1.9 percent of the U.S. population to 3.5 percent, according to a new study in Lancet Psychiatry.

8-27-16 This is your brain on pot
This is your brain on pot
Staci Gruber vividly remembers her first hit of marijuana, back when she was in college. It made her so paranoid, she locked herself in a bathroom. She couldn't decide whether to remain in hiding or to run. But she knew she'd never try pot again. She didn't lose interest in the drug, however. Today, she runs the 2-year-old Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery, or MIND, project at McLean Hospital in this suburb of Boston. With cognitive testing and neuroimaging, MIND is conducting a longitudinal study of medical marijuana. She ran a small study, published in 2013, that found teenagers and young adults who smoked marijuana were more likely to exhibit impulsive behavior than their peers and were more likely to have certain changes in the brain's white matter. A follow-up study found that those changes could reorganize brain regions associated with inhibitions. This year, Gruber's research team also found that chronic recreational users of pot had poorer cognitive and executive functioning, particularly if they began using marijuana as teens.

8-11-16 US government wants more cannabis farms for science
US government wants more cannabis farms for science
The DEA has decided to allow organisations to apply to grow marijuana for research purposes, a move intended to encourage more studies on the drug’s effects. At last, researchers will be able to get their hands on the stuff. The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced it will allow more organisations to grow and distribute marijuana for the purposes of research. Until now, the only approved supplier of cannabis for science has been the University of Mississippi. This has made it difficult for researchers to study the drug, such as its effects on depression, and whether it might help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. But the DEA today announced it will allow other organisations to apply to become registered suppliers, a move it hopes will foster more marijuana research. This policy change follows a letter last year calling on the DEA to take action to support more research into marijuana’s medical benefits, signed by eight US senators.

8-10-16 Speedy cannabis spit test could spot people driving while high
Speedy cannabis spit test could spot people driving while high
Now that personal use of marijuana has been legalised in many parts of the US, police are looking for ways to stop people driving while high. A 3-minute test could help. An erratic driver is pulled over by the police. The officer smells a hint of marijuana, so dabs a cotton swab in the driver’s mouth to collect some saliva. Just 3 minutes later, still by the side of the road, the result comes back: every millilitre of spit contains 5 nanograms of THC, weed’s active ingredient. This scenario may soon be commonplace thanks to a new test developed in the lab of Shan Wang at Stanford University in California. Wang’s technology uses nanoparticles that are shaped to fit like a lock-and-key to either THC or to reagents attached to a surface. With no THC molecules around, they connect to the reagent molecules, creating an electromagnetic distortion a sensor can measure. Add in THC and there are fewer distortions. “The more THC in the saliva, the less signal we detect,” Wang says. The sensor connects to a smartphone through Bluetooth, making it easy to use on the go – there’s no need to take samples back to the lab. “I think field testing is really the next step,” Wang says. “We have to make the device more user-friendly to the law enforcement officers.” (Webmaster's comment: Getting driving potheads off the roads will save a lot of lives just as keeping drunks off the road does!)

8-10-16 UK top for online drug sales in Europe
UK top for online drug sales in Europe
UK-based drug dealers earn more money online than any of their European rivals, research suggests. In January, British dealers made $2.2m (£1.7m) in web sales, with a 16% share of the global online drugs market. However, US dealers had a 36% share of the online market and took home $5m (£3.8m). Cannabis was the most popular item on the underground websites, accounting for a third of transactions. Purchases of prescription-only medicines accounted for a further 19%.

Online drug market share in January

  • United States - 35.9%
  • United Kingdom - 16.1%
  • Australia - 10.6%
  • Germany - 8.4%
  • Netherlands - 7.8%

Most popular drugs

  • Cannabis - 33%
  • Prescription medication - 19%
  • Stimulants - 18%
  • Ecstasy-type drugs - 12%
  • Psychedelics - 11%

8-10-16 11 questions employers should never ask job applicants
11 questions employers should never ask job applicants
This is a topic many people could stand to learn more about. A CareerBuilder survey last year found that 20 percent of hiring managers have asked an illegal question in an interview. A third of the more than 2,100 hiring and human resource managers polled said they were unsure of the legality of certain interview questions. Taboo topics also can come up during small talk, which is potentially just as damaging. "People chit-chat in interviews, and it's natural to talk about things that might give you information that's not job-related, but could be used to discriminate against a person," labor attorney Peter Moser told Huffington Post. A basic rule of thumb is that all questions need to be job-related. For a start, anything that touches on age, race, gender, religion, marital status, and sexual orientation are not okay. Here are 11 red-flag inquiries:

  1. "How old are you?"
  2. "Are you married?"
  3. "What religious holidays do you celebrate?"
  4. "How's your health?"
  5. "What's your race?"
  6. "What country are you from?"
  7. "Have you ever been arrested?"
  8. "Have you ever used drugs in the past?"
  9. "Do you like to drink socially?"
  10. "Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?"
  11. "What type of discharge did you receive in the military?"

8-8-16 Why do we fall for false positives even though they're common?
Why do we fall for false positives even though they're common?
From cannabis in the water supply to breast cancer screening, so many of the tests we use routinely give false results – so why don’t we expect them? Last month, the drinking water in a Colorado town was declared unsafe, because it had been contaminated by an ingredient from cannabis. It took two days to discover that this was not the case – a water test had turned up a false positive result. In fact, false positives are widespread in our everyday lives, and we seem to have an innate inability to get to grips with them. The fuss in Hugo, Colorado – a state where cannabis use is now legal – began when a county employee administering a test for drug use decided to use the same kind of test on tap water, rather than saliva, in an attempt to rule out a false positive. When the water tested positive too, it was assumed the test kit was a dud. But when they tried a different kit from another manufacturer the result was the same – it appeared that there was THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, in the water. Police then investigated the town’s well and found what they thought was evidence it had been tampered with. Residents were advised to switch to bottled water and restaurants were closed. But THC does not dissolve easily in water. If someone had wanted to contaminate the town’s water supply with this compound, they would have needed a huge – and expensive – amount of THC. By chance alone, we should expect things like this to happen. Any test will turn up a result that isn’t accurate every now and then, and we would expect this on occasion to happen in the same place multiple times. But our brains seem to have particular trouble handling these kinds of probability estimations. When the FBI conducted further tests, it emerged that the initial findings had been false positives. False positives can be caused by anything from faulty test kits to contamination, or even what you eat – people can test positive for opiate drugs after eating poppy seeds.

8-8-16 One in Eight U.S. Adults Say They Smoke Marijuana
One in Eight U.S. Adults Say They Smoke Marijuana
Thirteen percent of U.S. adults tell Gallup they currently smoke marijuana, nearly double the percentage who reported smoking marijuana only three years ago. Although use of the drug is still prohibited by federal law, the number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use has grown from two in 2013, Colorado and Washington, to four today -- with the addition of Alaska and Oregon -- plus the District of Columbia. Five states will vote on whether to legalize marijuana this November.

  • 13% report being current marijuana users, up from 7% in 2013
  • 43% of U.S. adults say they have tried it
  • Use and experimentation differ by religiosity, age

7-22-16 Marijuana chemical contaminates Colorado town's water
Marijuana chemical contaminates Colorado town's water
Marijuana is legal in Colorado for medical and recreational use. But... Residents of a small town in the US state of Colorado have been told not to drink tap water after THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, was found in one of the area's wells. The sheriff's office said the well near Hugo, about 90 miles south-east of Denver, may have been tampered with. It said it was not clear whether the water had been deliberately tainted. Medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado but there are no legal farms near Hugo. Officials said the contamination came to light when a company that carries out employee drug tests sampled the tap water, assuming it would test negative, and was surprised when the result was positive. The presence of THC was later confirmed in field tests; more detailed laboratory tests are now taking place.

7-22-16 The alternate painkiller
The alternate painkiller
In the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply. In medical-­marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of anti­depressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-­nausea doses, and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication—and 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

7-14-16 Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
IT MUST have been something in the air. Some 11,000 years ago, humans in Europe and Asia began using a new plant – cannabis. An archaeological study suggests that different groups of people across Eurasia began using the plant independently at the end of the last ice age – perhaps for its psychoactive properties, as a source of food or medicine, or even to make textiles from its fibres. “The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier,” says Tengwen Long at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, whose team conducted the study. But the first dope dealers did not arrive for another 6000 years, says the team. At the dawn of the Bronze Age, the Yamnaya – nomadic pastoralists on the Eurasian steppe – mastered horse riding. This allowed them to cover vast distances and begin forging transcontinental trade networks following the same routes that would become the famous Silk Road several millennia later. This earlier “Bronze Road” enabled all sorts of commodities to be transported between east and west, potentially including cannabis. “It’s a hypothesis that requires more evidence to test,” says Long. It might also explain the spread of wheat to east Asia 5000 years ago, he says.

7-7-16 Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
Founders of Western civilisation were prehistoric dope dealers
The ancient tribes of the Eurasian steppes that helped lay the foundations of Europe might have initiated a cross-continental trade in cannabis. It must have been something in the air. During a short time window at the end of the last ice age, Stone Age humans in Europe and Asia independently began using a new plant: cannabis. That’s the conclusion of a review of cannabis archaeology, which also links an intensification of cannabis use in East Asia with the rise of transcontinental trade at the dawn of the Bronze Age, some 5000 years ago. Central Eurasian’s Yamnaya people – thought to be one of the three key tribes that founded European civilisation ­– dispersed eastwards at this time and are thought to have spread cannabis, and possibly its psychoactive use, throughout Eurasia. The pollen, fruit and fibres of cannabis have been turning up in Eurasian archaeological digs for decades. It is often assumed that cannabis was first used, and possibly domesticated, somewhere in China or Central Asia, the researchers say – but their database points to an alternative. Some of the most recent studies included in the database suggest that the herb entered the archaeological record of Japan and Eastern Europe at almost exactly the same time, between about 11,500 and 10,200 years ago. “The cannabis plant seems to have been distributed widely from as early as 10,000 years ago, or even earlier,” says Long.

6-30-16 Donald Trump, marijuana, and the yearning to make America sober again
Donald Trump, marijuana, and the yearning to make America sober again
This Tuesday, the organizers of a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in California had their petitions certified, meaning Californians will vote in November on the question. Even though a legalization measure failed at the ballot in 2010, this one is almost sure to succeed (polls have shown support at around 60 percent), adding 39 million Americans to the still-modest number who live in states where pot is legal. The difference is not just the passage of six years, but the fact that this is a presidential year, which means a much different electorate going to the polls — in particular, a lot more young people. California is just the beginning: Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine will also have initiatives allowing recreational use, and Florida will have a medical marijuana measure on the ballot. Other states where marijuana initiatives are in the process of collecting signatures include Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota. In all likelihood some of them will succeed and others won't, but this much we can say: With each passing year, on this issue as on so many others, Blue America and Red America are separating from each other. And in some ways, we can see it as a separation between old America and young America. The divisions by age are perhaps the most striking thing about polling on marijuana use; while all age groups have gotten more supportive of legalization over the decades, what really matters is whether you came of age before the 1960s or after. Today legalization is supported by majorities of all age groups except senior citizens. To take one example, in this Pew Research Center poll from last year, those under 35 and those over 70 were mirror images of each other: 68 percent of the millennials supported legalization while 29 percent opposed it, and among the Silent Generation, 29 percent supported it and 68 percent opposed it.

6-28-16 Vaccines could counter addictive opioids
Vaccines could counter addictive opioids
Shots that harness the body's immune system may help addicts stay clean. Scientists are searching for a different kind of shot to prevent such tragedies: a vaccine to counter addiction to heroin and other opioids, such as the prescription painkiller fentanyl and similar knockoff drugs. In some ways, the vaccines work like traditional vaccines for infectious diseases such as measles, priming the immune system to attack foreign molecules. But instead of targeting viruses, the vaccines zero in on addictive chemicals, training the immune system to usher the drugs out of the body before they can reach the brain. (Webmaster's comment: We also need a vaccine for pot heads!)

6-23-16 Who's funding the US cannabis industry?
Who's funding the US cannabis industry?
Webb Garrison wants to start his own cannabis business. He doesn't have any industry experience and he's only just building up his knowledge of the complicated regulations that govern the sector. Cannabis has been legalised for either medical or recreational purposes in 25 states, but remains illegal on the national level. It can cost more than $1m to start a cannabis business in the US, according to the Marijuana Business Association. Licensing fees, equipment costs and rent are often the biggest charges and costs vary widely across states because of the different regulations.

6-17-16 Microsoft to help track legalised marijuana sales
Microsoft to help track legalised marijuana sales
Microsoft has teamed up with California-based technology start-up Kind Financial, which helps businesses and government agencies track sales of legalised marijuana "from seed to sale". It is the first-ever partnership of its kind for Microsoft. Kind has been selling its marijuana tracking software to businesses and governments for some three years. The start-up will now be able work on Microsoft's government cloud. Kind's software, which is called Agrisoft Seed to Sale, "closes the loop between marijuana-related businesses, regulatory agencies, and financial institutions,"

6-17-16 Pot harms gums
Pot harms gums
Studies have shown that heavy marijuana use apparently isn’t as hazardous to your health as smoking cigarettes. With one exception, that is: gum problems. Researchers in New Zealand followed 1,037 people from birth to middle age and found that more than half of those who smoked pot for two decades had no significant health issues other than periodontal disease—sore and swollen gums that can lead to tooth loss. Meanwhile, the condition affected fewer than 14 percent of subjects who never used the drug. The study doesn’t prove that smoking pot causes gum disease, but researchers note the association cannot be explained by poor oral hygiene, alcohol abuse, or tobacco. They also stressed that their findings shouldn’t be interpreted as a green light to get high. “We don’t want people to think, ‘Hey, marijuana can’t hurt me,’” study author Madeline Meier of Arizona State University tells, pointing to previous research associating weed with “increased risk of psychotic illness, IQ decline, and downward socioeconomic mobility.”

6-16-16 Cocaine addicts can’t kick other habits either
Cocaine addicts can’t kick other habits either
Hard for users to adjust behavior despite negative consequences, study finds. Cocaine addicts aren’t just hooked on the drug; they’re also more likely to hang on to other unrelated habits, a new study suggests. People hooked on cocaine are more likely to stick to other habits, too. They’re also less sensitive to negative feedback that tends to push nonaddicts away from harmful habitual behaviors, new research published in the June 17 Science suggests. The findings might help explain why cocaine addicts will do nearly anything to keep using the drug, despite awareness of its negative consequences. Instead, treatments that encourage new, healthier habits in place of drug use might click better.

5-27-16 Anger after Toronto police raid dozens of marijuana shops
Anger after Toronto police raid dozens of marijuana shops
Canadian marijuana users have decried recent raids on dozens of Toronto shops that sell the drug, calling the operation a waste of police resources. Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, but only licensed providers can sell it to people who have a doctor's approval. Police raided 43 Toronto shops on Thursday and made 90 arrests. Raids come just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government is poised to make marijuana legal to recreational users. Protesters gathered outside police headquarters on Friday, calling the medical marijuana dispensaries essential. Police said the shops raided were not authorised to sell marijuana.

5-20-16 Dangers of driving stoned
Dangers of driving stoned
Fatal car accidents involving marijuana more than doubled in Washington after the state legalized the sale of the drug in 2012, new research shows. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that marijuana was involved in 17 percent of Washington’s fatal accidents in 2014—up from 8 percent the year before, reports. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug,” says the nonprofit’s president, Peter Kissinger. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 20 more states are considering similar legislation. Legal blood alcohol limits were easily established, but determining when people are “too high” to drive is much more complicated, because THC, the main chemical component in marijuana, affects everyone differently. In any event, the study authors say, “just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle.”

4-27-16 The B&B where cannabis is part of your stay
The B&B where cannabis is part of your stay
Colorado's cannabis industry is growing fast, with armoured cars full of cash a common sight on Denver's streets. But businesses are stuck in a legal no-man's land - state laws allow the drug to be sold, but federal laws still prohibit it. It all began in the year 2000, after a state-wide referendum changed the Colorado constitution to legalise the use and supply of marijuana for medical purposes. This was not a move led by politicians; the current governor is still opposed. But the people spoke and the legislators had to turn the decision into fact. Colorado was not the first state to legalise medical cannabis. It's claimed to have many physical and mental effects: easing pain, calming fits, energising or relaxing the body, depending on which particular strain of the drug you use (and which particular dosage). Now, there is something very weird about cannabis in the US. Using it and growing it is still a federal crime. Though individual states have fiercely defended their own legal rights, marijuana is still officially classified as a schedule one drug, as fearsome to the federal authorities as heroin.

4-21-16 Canada to push for making sale marijuana legal
Canada to push for making sale marijuana legal
The Canadian government will introduce legislation next year that would make the sale of marijuana legal, its health minister has said. If enacted, the move would make Canada one of the largest Western countries to allow widespread use of the drug. Health Minister Jane Philpott pledged on Wednesday to keep marijuana "out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals".

4-12-16 DEA mellowing out on cannabis would make medical research easier
DEA mellowing out on cannabis would make medical research easier
The US Drug Enforcement Agency is mulling its classification of marijuana and reviewing the science - something its tough laws have stymied. You can buy weed gummy bears in Colorado and vape cannabis in Oregon, yet US scientists are struggling to get their hands on the stuff for medical research. This could soon change: the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it hopes to reach a decision on the legal status of cannabis by July. Although states have their own classifications and laws governing the possession and sale of marijuana, the federal government classes it as a Schedule 1 drug, a category typically reserved for dangerous drugs that offer no medical benefits. This creates significant hurdles for scientists interested in marijuana research. A letter signed by eight US senators last year urged the government to craft a new policy that would support expanded research on its potential medical benefits. For example, additional research could help pin down how marijuana affects conditions like depression and non-neuropathic pain, and whether it could help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

4-4-16 Marijuana use starting in youth implicated in financial woes
Marijuana use starting in youth implicated in financial woes
Persistent pot users more likely to experience downward social mobility. Persistent, heavy pot smoking starting in adolescence heralds serious financial troubles by age 38, a long-term study of New Zealanders finds. Financial health takes a hit among people who smoke a lot of marijuana from adolescence into young adulthood, even if they don’t get hooked on the drug, researchers say. The more years that individuals smoke pot four or more days a week, the more likely they are to experience serious money problems, say social epidemiologist Magdalena Cerdá of the University of California, Davis and her colleagues. Cash woes include defaulting on credit card payments, struggling to pay for food and rent and going on welfare. (Webmaster's comment: Like I've said, marijuana use is a two-edged sword. It can help with serious medical problems, but can be just as much a problem as drinking to much alcohol.)

3-4-16 Pot tourism
Pot tourism
Pot tourism, after the number of ER visits by tourists under the influence of marijuana nearly doubled in the first year of the drug’s legalized sale in Colorado. Inexperienced users are evidently consuming too many pot brownies and other edibles.

2-24-16 New laws could force marijuana dispensaries to close
New laws could force marijuana dispensaries to close
Off licences, fast food restaurants and abandoned buildings line Gratiot Street in north-east Detroit where the cannabis dispensary 420 Dank stands. But despite the store's success, Ms Gaetano and her nine employees may soon be out of business. New legislation in the city of Detroit prevents medical marijuana dispensaries from being within 1,000ft (305m) of schools, churches, off licences, strip clubs or other dispensaries - and 420 Dank is just 371ft away from an off-licence. But even if the store is allowed to stay open it will still face new restrictions. Drive-through sales have been banned and stores cannot open until 10am, cutting into the hours when it caters for people finishing night shifts. (Webmaster's comment: It may be legal to sell it, but towns, cities, counties, and states have a hundred ordinances and laws to use to shut the stores down.)

2-21-16 Why is Facebook shutting down legal marijuana pages in the US?
Why is Facebook shutting down legal marijuana pages in the US?
Cannabis has been now made legal in 23 states in the US. In some states, like Colorado, it's legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Authorised cannabis businesses in these states are entirely legal. So they say they were left puzzled in recent weeks, when their Facebook pages were suddenly shut down. Reports suggest that at least a dozen cannabis businesses across six US states have had their Facebook pages disabled in the past few weeks.

2-18-16 How Obama totally blew it on marijuana reform
How Obama totally blew it on marijuana reform
Last April, Raymond Schwab and his wife Amelia planned to relocate their family to Colorado. A Gulf War veteran who has struggled with chronic pain and PTSD since his honorable discharge, Schwab wanted to move so he could legally obtain medical marijuana, the only effective remedy he'd found for his symptoms. As a Veterans Administration (VA) employee, Schwab was able to take his job with him to Denver, and all seemed good to go. But the Schwab family was moving from Kansas, where marijuana — even for medical use — remains strictly illegal. So when an angry family member reported Schwab's pot use to the police, five of the couple's six children were taken by the state. (Webmaster's comment: Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug. The president can change this.)

2-12-16 Marijuana affects memory
Marijuana affects memory
Many marijuana smokers enjoy the drug's short-term high, but a new study reveals that weed may also wreak long-term havoc on the brain. Specifically, researchers found that years of pot smoking could hinder people's ability to recall certain words. The team tracked the marijuana use of nearly 3,400 men and women over the course of 25 years. At the end of the study the subjects were tested on their verbal memory, mental processing speed, and executive function. For every 5 years of exposure to marijuana, the study found, one out of every two smokers remembered one word fewer from a list of 15 - a small but statistical effect. Marijuana use didn't affect other areas of brain function, but the more pot people smoked the worse they performed on memory tests. "Recreational marijuana users use it to get high, to benefit from the transient change it produces," The lead author, Reto Auer of the University of Switzerland, tells "But this transient effect might have long-term consequences on the way the brain process information, and could also have direct toxic effects on neurons."

1-29-16 Our marijuana laws don’t make sense
Our marijuana laws don’t make sense
The Netherlands led the way in legalizing the sale of marijuana 25 years ago with its groundbreaking “coffee shops,” said Gerard Spong and Frits Lauwaars. Now it’s time to go further and legalize production. The idea of letting customers in at the front door while trying to stop suppliers entering at the back was never going to work. Nearly every day, a coffee shop owner is charged with procuring supplies—and though “no self-respecting judge” ever imposes punishment, prosecutors go on charging them just the same, wasting taxpayers’ money on gathering evidence and legal fees. The impetus for change is coming from local authorities, who say the proliferation of illegal attic “marijuana nurseries” is a growing fire hazard. They want to see supply regulated along with demand. Once cultivation is controlled by the state, they argue, it will no longer fuel criminal activity. Polls suggest that the majority of the public support the idea. Alas, the Netherlands’ ruling party won’t budge, claiming a change in the law would defy international treaties. But if Colorado in the U.S. can regulate the cultivation of cannabis along with sales, why can’t we? The government should stop making excuses and introduce a policy that makes sense.

12-21-15 Can drug courts stop overdose deaths in heroin epidemic?
Can drug courts stop overdose deaths in heroin epidemic?
New Hampshire's court system and emergency services are being overwhelmed by a heroin epidemic - but is locking up addicts the answer? In the second part of the BBC's series on the epidemic, Franz Strasser visits a so-called drug court where non-violent offenders are put into treatment programmes rather than sent to prison. These courts exist in just half of the state's counties, however, and the treatment services can only help a fraction of those who are addicted to either heroin or legal painkillers.

12-21-15 Unlikely face of heroin epidemic in small town America
Unlikely face of heroin epidemic in small town America
Drug-related deaths have soared in New Hampshire, where an influx of cheap heroin has claimed victims from every section of society. The state is facing an epidemic of addiction and overdoses. Voters in the state, which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential primary in February, say drugs are now their biggest concern. In the first of a two-part series, the BBC's Franz Strasser explores the origins of the epidemic and the devastating impact it's having on families and communities.

11-10-15 Smoking weed is now a human right in Mexico
Smoking weed is now a human right in Mexico
Mexico has ruled that banning personal use of cannabis violates the human right to free development of one's personality. Will other countries follow suit? Is smoking weed a human right? Days after voters in the US state of Ohio rejected a proposal to legalise cannabis for recreational use, Mexico has ruled that smoking pot is a fundamental human right. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by 4 to 1 that banning the consumption and cultivation of cannabis for personal use violates the human right to free development of one’s personality. “This vote by Mexico’s Supreme Court is extraordinary for two reasons,” says Hannah Hetzer of the US Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigns for the relaxation of drug laws. “First, it’s being argued on human-rights grounds, and secondly, it’s taking place in one of the countries that has suffered most from the war on drugs,” she says.

11-5-15 Here's the nightmare scenario for pot legalization
Here's the nightmare scenario for pot legalization
Mark my words: Pot will be legal. Mark my words: We're going to be completely boneheaded about it. I think the first proposition is, at this point, uncontroversial. The progress of the cause of pot legalization in the polls is striking. More states are considering some form of it. And there is indeed a lot to be said for the idea: Pot doesn't seem obviously worse than liquor, and the drug war, which has destroyed countless lives over non-violent crimes, does seem excessive. Plus, it's corrosive to the rule of law when something widely practiced, including by future presidents, is formally illegal. The second proposition is not at the forefront of people's minds, but it's actually very important. And, obviously, our public policy process is not exactly known for competence, so we should be worried. Pot might not be as harmful as crack cocaine, or the bubonic plague, but it is not completely harmless. Yes, pot is not as dangerous as 1980s PSAs would have had you believe, and yes, the "gateway drug" notion is probably false. But while most pot users remain casual smokers and aren't harmed by it, a small minority of users really do become addicted, and really do damage their bodies and their brains for the long term. We all know That Guy.

10-21-15 In U.S., 58% Back Legal Marijuana Use
In U.S., 58% Back Legal Marijuana Use
A majority of Americans continue to say marijuana use should be legal in the United States, with 58% holding that view, tying the high point in Gallup's 46-year trend. Majority favors legal marijuana for third consecutive year. Younger generations more supportive than older generations. Older generations more supportive than they were in the past.

Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal or not? Gallop Poll Results

10-20-15 Is the UN about to recommend decriminalisation of all drugs?
Is the UN about to recommend decriminalisation of all drugs?
A document apparently recommending that governments decriminalise all illegal drugs is under review at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The war on drugs has taken an interesting turn. In a blog post published on Monday, businessman Richard Branson said that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was planning to release a statement at the International Harm Reduction Conference in Malaysia recommending that governments decriminalise all illegal drugs. A long-time advocate of changing drug policies, Branson wrote that he “could not be more delighted” with this apparent development. The UNODC has since published a statement saying that the briefing paper mentioned by Branson isn’t a final or formal document and that there has been an “unfortunate misunderstanding” regarding the intention of the document. It does, however, state that a document is under review. So, if such a recommendation were to be released in the future, governments across the globe would need to decide whether to follow Portugal’s example. The country “de-penalised” the use of all drugs in 2001. David Nutt, chair of the UK’s Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and former UK government advisor, says that he would fully support such a move from the UNODC. “For recreational drug users criminalisation will do more harm than the drugs they use, and for addicts they need to be treated for the illness they suffer, not persecuted,” he says. Alex Stevens, professor of criminal justice at the University of Kent, UK, also supports such a potential move. He notes the many drawbacks of criminalisation, including discouraging “people who need treatment for drug dependence from seeking it”.

8-19-15 E-spliff on sale in UK designed to relieve pain minus the high
E-spliff on sale in UK designed to relieve pain minus the high
A device called MediPen is said to contain hemp oil imbued with 20 per cent cannabidiol – the compound thought to be responsible for weed's health benefits. It’s an e-cigarette made using a strain of marijuana high in cannabidiol (CBD), the compound thought to give cannabis its purported medical benefits, and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the one that gets you high. “Many people who use cannabis medicinally don’t want to get high or dislike having to puff smoke”.

6-23-2015 Medical marijuana offers only weedy health benefits
by the JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association
Medical marijuana offers only weedy health benefits
Don’t expect marijuana to perform medical miracles. That’s the message from a huge review of 79 clinical trials undertaken between 1975 and 2015 that assessed the merit of taking cannabinoids – the active component in cannabis – to treat different health conditions. Most trials reported greater improvement in symptoms with cannabinoids compared to control groups, but they didn’t usually reach statistical significance.

6-1-2015 Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana's Secrets
by Hampton Sides in National Geographic Magazine
Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana's Secrets
As the once-vilified drug becomes more accepted, researchers around the world are trying to understand how it works and how it might fight disease. There's nothing new about cannabis, of course. It's been around humankind pretty much forever. In Siberia charred seeds have been found inside burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. The Chinese were using cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. Marijuana is deeply American too - as American as George Washington, who grew hemp at Mount Vernon. For most of the country's history, cannabis was legal, commonly found in tinctures and extracts.

6-5-2014 Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use
by the The New England Journal of Medicine
Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use
which has reviewed 77 studies of the effects of marijuana use, with both positive and negative effects. Includes charts and tables of the results.

2011 The Adverse Effects of Marijuana (for healthcare professionals)
by CSAM, the California Society of Addiction Medicine
The Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana (for healthcare professionals)
which has reviewed 20 studies of the effects of marijuana use, with both positive and negative effects.

With doctor's advice and under prescription control legalizing
Medical Marijuana seems like a good idea, but the above scientific
facts will help you decide whether to support it or not.

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